Egyptian president Abdul Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday made remarks about the stalled negotiation over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
He did so during a press conference following a visit to the Suez Canal Authority, as reported by Ahram Online.
Mr. El-sisi is quoted as saying “No one can take a drop of water from Egypt” or “there will be inconceivable instability in the region that no one could imagine.”
Over 85 percent of the Nile water originates from Ethiopia but Egypt has been claiming a “historical right” over the Nile water – a claim that does not seem to give a room for equitable use of the Nile water in accordance with international law.
Ethiopia did not respond to the latest threat of war from the Egyptian president.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Dina Muftia, on Tuesday had a regular weekly briefing. He did mention Ethiopia’s legal right to equitably use water from Abbay river (Nile).
“Ethiopia has legal and sovereign right to use the Nile water for development fairly and equitably and that Ethiopia has no interest in harming the lower Nile Basin countries in doing so,” it was said.
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Negotiation
It has been over a year since Ethiopia withdrew from Washington brokered negotiations during the Donald Trump Administration. Since then, the negotiation had been going on with the African Union playing a role of leading and coordinating the negotiation.
However, no agreement has been reached and the talk is stopped.
Earlier this month, Egypt and Sudan proposed the addition of mediators namely the United States, the United Nations and European Union. Ethiopia rejected it saying there is no reason to take the negotiation outside the framework of the African Union emphasizing “African Solutions to African problems.”
Meanwhile, Ethiopia this week disclosed that the preparation, like clearing forests, to undertake the second phase of dam filling is underway.
Sudan and Egypt consider the second filing of the dam as a “national security issue” if conducted without a binding agreement with the filling and operation of the dam. Ethiopia says that it will exploit the rainy months of July and August for the second phase of dam filling which will retain over 13 billion cubic meters of water.
Egypt’s history of meddling in Ethiopian Affairs
Egypt had been supporting Ethiopia dissent with the aim to destabilize the country. In 2016, the Ethiopian government accused Egypt of “meddling with internal affairs of Ethiopia by way of supporting radical ethno-nationalist forces,” including radical ethnic Oromo nationalists.
The accusation came after hundreds of Ethiopians were killed in a stampede during Irrecha celebration in Bishoftu (Debre Zeit).
At the time Egypt, whose Ambassador in Addis Ababa was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied allegations.
Most Ethiopians tend to believe that Egypt has always been restless when it comes to supporting groups with hostile political agenda to Ethiopia.
Even prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has been telling Ethiopians that there are hostile external actors behind some groups causing instabilities in Ethiopia albeit he did not name names.
However, Egyptian attempts to destabilize Ethiopia have been unsuccessful so far. It remains to be seen if Egypt will hold on to the idea of military action on its own – or creating “inconceivable instability” in the region – as El Sisi put it.
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